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What is LGBT Discrimination?


Your questions about workers’ rights, answered

Employment laws protect employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But what is LGBT discrimination and how can you prove it? 

what is LGBT discrimination?LGBT employment discrimination means treating a job applicant or employee unfavorably because of their sexual orientation. It also protects people from discrimination based on someone’s gender identity, gender expression, or transgender status. 

In practice, LGBT discrimination can mean refusing to hire someone, denying a promotion or benefits, or firing someone because of their sexual identity. Keep reading to learn about LGBT discrimination laws, examples of LGBT discrimination, and how to prove LGBT discrimination.

What is LGBT discrimination?

LGBT discrimination is treating someone unfavorably because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can include discrimination in the workplace, housing discrimination, public accommodation discrimination, or credit and lending discrimination. 

Before 2020, many states did not provide anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. A June 2020 Supreme Court ruling found that federal sex discrimination laws also cover gender identity and sexual orientation. As a result, federal employment discrimination laws now cover LGBTQ employees in every state.

What is LGBT employment discrimination?

LGBT employment discrimination means treating a job applicant or employee poorly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes refusing to hire someone because they identify as LGBT or wrongful termination because of an employee’s sexual orientation. 

Federal laws against sex discrimination also cover LGBT employment discrimination, according to a 2020 Supreme Court ruling. As a result, employees cannot discriminate against job applicants or employees because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

What constitutes LGBT discrimination?

An employment decision that treat LGBT employees less favorably because of their sexual orientation or gender identity qualifies as LGBT discrimination. This can include refusing to hire someone because of their sexuality or firing an employee for undergoing a gender transition. 

LGBT discrimination laws also protect employees from harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes hostile work environment protections. 

What are some examples of LGBT discrimination in the workplace?

Several different actions can qualify as LGBT discrimination at work. Examples of LGBT discrimination include a hiring manager who refuses to hire a job applicant because of his or her sexual orientation violates LGBT discrimination protections. Similarly, firing someone because of their gender identity meets the definition for wrongful termination protections.

Other examples of LGBT discrimination include refusing to promote an employee because of their sexuality, denying benefits only to transgender employees, or paying LGBT employees less than other employees. 

What is LGBT harassment in the workplace?

LGBT harassment in the workplace includes offensive remarks, behavior, or actions that target the LGBT community. Workplaces have a responsibility to stop harassment based on protected characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Workplace harassment can create a hostile work environment and violate anti-discrimination protections. The harassment does not have to target specific employees to create a hostile work environment. 

What laws prevent LGBT discrimination?

Federal law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes LGBT discrimination. In addition to federal bans on LGBT discrimination, many states provide additional protections, including New York. 

Under these laws, employers cannot discriminate against job applicants or employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Victims of LGBT discrimination can file a complaint with the EEOC or a state or local agency that enforces employment laws.

Do federal laws ban LGBT discrimination?

Yes, federal law bans LGBT discrimination in the workplace under Title VII.

Prior to 2020, fewer than half of states banned workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. Several federal circuit courts ruled that Title VII applies to LGBT employees. However, federal anti-discrimination laws did not explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII does cover discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. As a result, federal law now protects LGBT employees in every state.

Learn more about the history of sexual orientation discrimination

How many states have LGBT anti-discrimination laws?

Many states have passed LGBT anti-discrimination laws, including New York, California, and Illinois.  Some of these laws provide different protections that the federal Title VII act. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit is longer under New York laws than federal laws.

How to handle LGBT discrimination in the workplace?

If you experience LGBT discrimination in the workplace, you can report it to your supervisor or human resources department. In addition, keeping records on the discrimination can strengthen your case if you choose to file a lawsuit. 

Workplace discrimination can be stressful. In addition to taking steps to protect your rights, take care of your mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

How do you prove LGBT discrimination?

LGBT discrimination at work can take many forms. But you can strengthen your case for LGBT discrimination by taking a few simple steps. Make sure to keep written records of any conversations or events that violated your rights. You should also keep copies of any reports from your supervisor or human resources on the discrimination, including records showing your employer’s response to your discrimination. 

If you report LGBT discrimination or a hostile work environment and your employer does not take steps to stop the discrimination or acts against you, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. A discrimination lawyer can help you prove LGBT discrimination. 

What can you do about LGBT discrimination?

Victims of LGBT discrimination can file a lawsuit against their employer. Learn more about LGBTQ discrimination protections, discrimination laws, and potential damages.

A discrimination lawyer can help protect your rights. If you’re in the greater New York City area, reach out to New York discrimination lawyer Charles Joseph for a free consultation. Charles Joseph brings over two decades of experience with workplace discrimination cases, and his firm has recovered over $140 million for clients.

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